In a victory for health-minded customers, a water board votes to eliminate fluoride from its treatment process.
The Northwest Utility District, which covers Soddy Daisy, Sale Creek and little towns nearby on Tuesday voted 6 to 1 to halt immediately injection of the phosphate industry waste product into the water supply of 7,500 customers.
By David Tulis / AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio
The vote favors caution over public health concerns and follows a proposal to end fluoridation made by David Collett, general manager, who plied authorities with studies such as that in the Lancet in 2014 that says fluoride is part of a “pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity.”
The vote also suggests a rising disregard for official explanations from federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control that give fluoride blanket approval (agencies cited at length in a Times Free Press story about the Soddy-Daisy vote).
In ‘change of heart,’ fluoride abolished
Board member Bill McGriff indicates that the arguments raised against mass compulsory fluoridation starting in 1945 haven’t lost their power, and cites damage fluoride causes to valves and water plant equipment.
“I have read the reports’ pros and cons,” Mr. McGriff says. “I have seen firsthand what the fluoric acid *** does to pipes, the concrete. It was a hard decision, but I thought, weighing both sides, that it’s better not to add something that could be destructive — we’re told in small amounts it’s not destructive — but I just thought it’s better to err on the side of safety.”
The board member who made the motion to abolish fluoride, Jim Farmer, says initially he had stood in favor of the $20,000 annual program in which 80 gallons of fluoride a day are dripped into about 3 million gallons of water. “After our last meeting and after our last discussion,” he tells AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio in a live Facebook interview, “I went ahead and visited my dentist and two other dentists right here. I was really of the opinion that we should continue adding it. But after I researched all the material that’s been given to us, I had a change of heart and changed my opinion.”
The proposal to end fluoride is from Mr. Collett, a soft-spoken man who gives a five-minute review of the investigative process. He gently repeats his arguments for an end of fluoridation, focusing largely on equipment damage that accounts for most of the fluoride budget.
Mr. Collett points out that fluoride has few defenders. “We have a customer base that really hasn’t expressed a view on the issue,” Mr. Collett says.
The recommendation gets personal. Mr. Collett has small children at home and does not want them to ingest the chemical. He says fluoridation is a voluntary act fully within the discretion of the board.
That argument resonates with member Jack Cain. “There’s no mandate to put the fluoride in,” he says afterwards. “And there are concerns about putting it in from the health standpoint. Therefore I don’t think we should add something to water that isn’t necessary, that isn’t *** essentially mandated by an agency authorized to do that.”
No employee of the district I interviewed supports fluoridation, starting with two plant managers, Steve Roark and Darrell Burchard, who were on hand Tuesday.
2 months of study
The board took two months to study the controversy and solicit comments from customers. “No matter what we do, there are going to be some people upset,” said Phyllis Marr, president, in May. “We’ve just got to have as much information as we can to make an educated decision.”
The lone dissenter Tuesday is Carlos Wilson. “I voted to keep the fluoride in because I think it’s a good thing and not a bad thing. That’s basically it.”
Most of the people in the audience are activists who favor the end of mass compulsory fluoridation. Among them is Karyn French from Brentwood, Tenn., of the TN Safe Drinking Water Coalition. Joining her in a cry of ecstasy after the vote are Erik and Chiesa Smith, Soddy-Daisy residents who helped circulate a petition. Mrs. Smith, mother of two, calls hydrofluorosilicic acid “a hazardous waste” and says mass fluoridation is unnecessary “as we get plenty of fluoride through toothpaste and dental treatments. Lead was once thought to be good, but it was found out that it’s not.”
At least three people in the audience favor keeping fluoride. One is a TVA employee who says the science has consistently declared fluoride innocent of any harm and a health benefit. Another is Nancy Jo Ogozalek, a chemist who spoke in favor of fluoride at the board’s May meeting.
Also watching is Dr. Brian Schenck, head of the Chattanooga Area Dental Society. But no others from the tooth health profession join him tonight in vigil for fluoride’s death knell in north Hamilton County. Scientific support for fluoride even as an aid to teeth is in marked decline, Newsweek reported in 2015.
Also present is Clark Culver of Savannah, Tenn., a certified water plant operator who has fought fluoridation at much personal and professional cost and who talked about fluoride dangers in a radio interview.
“People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers concerning water fluoridation,” Mrs. French says. It is “quite refreshing” to see people become more aware and active.
Health boost: Soddy-Daisy board boots fluoride
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